Opanak (Serbian Cyrillic: опанак; Macedonian: опинок; Bulgarian: цървул, опинок[a]) are traditional peasant shoes worn in Southeastern Europe (specifically Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia). The attributes of the Opanci (name in plural) are: a construction of leather, lack of laces, durable, and various ending on toes. In Serbia, the design of the horn-like ending on toes indicates the region of origin. The concept, and the word, exists in Romania (as opincă) which is borrowed from Slavic. The Opanci are considered a national symbol of Serbia, and the traditional peasant footwear for people in the Balkan region.
Serbo-Croatian "opanak", and Bulgarian and Macedonian "опинок", all ultimately derive from Proto-Slavic *opьnъkъ, which itself is a compound of the prepositional *o(b)- "around, on, etc." with final *b assimilated and the resulting greminated consonant cluster *pp being simplified to *p, and the vrddhi-lengthened root vowel of the verb *pęti, originally meaning "to strain, move" (cf. modern standard Serbo-Croatian verbs conveying the same notion such as nàpēti/на̀пе̄ти, pròpēti/про̀пе̄ти, ràspēti/ра̀спе̄ти, pòpēti/по̀пе̄ти..), but subsequently coming to mean "to climb" (whence the meaning of modern standard Serbo-Croatian pȇti/пе̑ти, pènjati/пѐњати). So literally, opanak would roughly mean "climbing footwear".
Until 50 years ago, they were usually worn in rural areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia. Nowadays, they are only used in folk costume, for folkloric dance ensembles, festivals, feast days or other cultural events.
- Šumadijski opanak s kljunom, also known as šiljkani: shoes with peak at toes.
- Šumadijski opanak bez kljuna: shoes without peak at toes.
- Kačerski opanak or Stariji Šumadijski opanak (Older Šumadijan opanak): with low back, curved peak at front, with woven front upper, a low back and leather ties.
- West and North
- Crveni opanci (Red opanci): made out of half tanned oxhide and dyed red by soaking the piece of skin in hot water with alder or birch bark, then the skin was shaped on a last, and a woven front made of strips of leather and tied to the foot with straps of leather. These were adopted from Bosnia in the mid-19th century and were worn throughout western and northern Serbia. Production was moved to workshops by 1900 and tanned leather was used. From 1870 onwards red opanci called donaši or Šabački opanci were most commonly worn.
- Other varieties
- Vrncani opanci: made out of tanned leather and worn for work.
- Opanci donaši: appeared at end of the 19th century, and were made of tanned leather in various yellow and brown shades depending on the plants used for tanning - oak apple, sumac, juniper bark. These have a sole, top, pleated straps, and leather straps for tying footwear on.
- Vlaške (Vlach opanci): piece of leather gathered round foot using a cord.
- Kosmajski opanak (Kosmaj opanci): has curly front, woven upper & leather straps at back
- Šopske (Shopi opanci)
- Crvenjaši (Red ones)
- šabačke (Šabac)
- valjevske (Valjevo)
- užičke (Užice)
- kolubarske (Kolubara)
- moravske (Morava)
- noske (Snouts)
- mrki (Brown ones)
- kilaši (Kilo ones)
- kukičari (Hooked ones)
- točkaši (Tire ones): made out of old tires, period after World War II
- North - opinki or central and west tsârvouli: leather sandals with blunt tips tied onto feet with long cords which formed a 'network' giving them the name vruvchanki. These were worn over pieces of woollen cloth wrapped round legs.
- From the 2nd half of the 19th century woollen socks and leather shoes called eminii, or kalevri were worn.
The opanci are part of most variations of the Croatian national costume.
- Opanci made with a broad sole covering the foot with upper part covering the toes, originally tied round the foot and legs with long leather straps. In the inter-war period buckled opanky first appeared, and are still worn in some rural areas by men.
- Leather sandals were worn by men & women throughout north Croatia but later replaced by light low embroidered shoes or boots (čižme). Peasant sandals went out of general use around 1900.
- Dinaric Alps
- oputaši or pripletenjaci were made of untanned hide, cut and shaped on a wooden mould to make the shape of the sole of the foot, the edges folded upwards and laced using a lace made of sheep gut or thin strips of sheep hide called oputa. The top of the opanky was made by lacing together strips of gut or hide. At the heel the sole continues into the woven part ending in long leather laces which were used to tie the opanci to the foot. These were worn over stockings. Opanci were originally made at home, then by village makers, and later by specialist opanky makers in small towns.
- In Lika white cords were used instead of laces. These opanci were worn by men.
- Adriatic littoral, Konavle
- Red leather slippers called kondure were worn by women in summer. Men wore these or opanci-optutaši (opanci with straps).
- Sava valley
- Opanci worn with or without foot cloths for everyday wear, boots worn in winter, for wet weather & special occasions.
- Skopska Crna Gora
- Opanci s's oputice: with twisted hemp laces, made of oxhide or pigskin, tied on with twisted hemp laces.
- Opanci s's remeni: - with straps fastening over the instep, made of tanned leather by shoe makers and worn on festive occasions.
- In Nikšic white cords were used instead of laces. These opanci were worn by men.
- Abarka, traditional shoes of leather from Pyrenees
- Moccasin, shoes of leather from the Indigenous peoples of New Zealand and Australia
- ^ Serbian: Опанак/Opanak, pl. Опанци/Opanci, Опанкe/opanke, Bosnian and Croatian: Opanak, pl. Opanci, Macedonian: Опинок, pl. опинци, opinci; Bulgarian: pl. опинци, opintsi. Spellings and variants:
- Eliznik.org.uk, European peasant footwear - styles of leather sandals
- Opanak.net, Opanci-maker Zlatimir Radojković (Serbian)